Graham Allison: Is the US destined for war with China- the US elite discusses the Thucydides trap

Graham Allison: Is the US destined for war with China- the US elite discusses the Thucydides trap

While the discussion about a Sino-American war until recently was still confined to some think tanks, military experts and the Pentagon, TX Hammes Offshore Control, the CSBA Airsea Battle concept or RAND „War with China“, Harvard professor Graham Allinson´s book „Destined for War with China- How to avoid the Thucydides trap? started an open discussion. among the political and economic elite. Graham Allinson studied Greece and the father of history Thudycides who focused in his writings about the Peleponesian wars on the question of the inevitability of war between rising and declining powers. Allison also was the author of the book „The essence of decision“ about the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world at the abyss of nuclear war and combined these studies to his new book. Therefore he made research of historical conflicts between rising and declining powers and came to the conclusion that in the last 500 years 12 of 16 conflicts ended in a war, while only 4 could be settled peacefully, namely the conflict between Portugal and Spain, the conflict between the USA and Great Britain, the conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union and the rise of Germany after the reunification. Allison is also head of the Thucydides Project oft he Harvard University and his book is the product of the studies and discussions of this project. Therefore also the US elites beyond the security establishment are now discussing the question of a Sino-American war and how to prevent it publicly. Allison claims that neither China nor the USA wanted a war, but could be drawn into it by a third party or conflict, be it North Korea, Taiwan, the South China or the East China Sea, especially as cyberspace and space become accelerants for the escalation ladder in case of a conflict- similar to the results oft he CSBA study „Rethinking Armageddon“ and the Second Nuclear Age.

While China hawks and John Mearsheimer see a clash unavoidable and propose a policy of economic and psychological warfare and policy of military strength as a recipe against a Sino-American war. Kyle Bass, member of the Committee for The Present Danger: China also interviewed Allinson and questioned the assumption of a powerful China and the inevitable rise of China as its economy was state capitalistic and its financial system not that strong as most experts believe. In the 60s many experts predicted that the Soviet Union would surpass the USA, in the 80s it was Japan, then the EU and it didn´t happen:

At Harvard Graham Allison had a discussion with China old hand Henry Kissinger and they agreed that a Sino-American war could happen  as nobody thinks that it could happen and that a pattern of  getting accustomed to regular conflicts could lead to the situation that a conflict could be underestimated and escalate like the assasination of the Austrian Archduke in Serbia caused WW 1. Kissingers thinks that the USA should not try to boycott China´s New Silk Rorad, but become member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and cooperate with China. He also thinks that the South China Sea, Hongkong and Taiwan can be regulated by a compromise.Kissinger sees the most important threat in the nuclear proliferation and North Korea and Allison and he think about a solution from a negotiated solution of the Korean question, a denuclearized, united Korean peninsula, a Finlandization, the withdrawal of US troops. etc.

Graham Allison  also discussed the question of a Sino-American war with General retired David Petraeus who also was his interviewer at the Munich Security Conference 2020 in Munich where this discussion got internationalized for the first time:

We see a process of rethinking old assumptions, searching for a US grand strategy which has now openly begun in the US elites. It remains to be seen how this will influence Trump and the coming US goverments. However Allison thinks that while Trump might be impulsive he had the advantage that he wasn´t thinking in the traditional conventional wisdom of the former US elites who themselves as he selfcritically points out did a very poor job and made a lot wrong in the past.

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